Indian Express | February 23, 2015
ComMin expedites work on FTA before Modi’s Canada visit
Written by Shruti Srivastava | New Delhi
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi likely to visit Canada in April this year, the commerce and industry ministry has expedited the work on firming up the framework for the proposed free trade agreement with the country.
Official sources told The Indian Express that the ministry has “offered to hold the ninth round of consultations with Canadian officials next month so that the CEPA can be concluded during the visit of the Prime Minister.”
The negotiations for the comprehensive and economic partnership agreement (CEPA) had formally begun in 2010 and in June 2013, eighth round of negotiations was held in Ottawa on June 24-25. However, consensus on issues related to services, agriculture and forestry is yet to be formed.
“We have made the offer of holding the ninth round of consultations. The Canadian authorities are yet to respond. We are working on finalising a comprehensive note on CEPA negotiations. Meeting between chief negotiators of both the countries was held and some issues related to agriculture and forestry sector have been worked out,” the sources added.
The forestry sector, an $11.8-billion industry representing 7.1 per cent of its manufacturing GDP, is of special interest to the Canadian economy. It is a huge employer across rural Canada, operating in 200 forest-dependent communities, and directly employing 133,895 Canadians.
In view of this, Canada is ensuring that the needs of firms in this sector are addressed in government-to-government commercial agreements including free trade agreements.
Meanwhile, India is looking at reaping benefits from the services sector of the Canada. Services contribute around 60 per cent to India’s gross domestic product. The ministry is also working on “getting better results in terms of increasing exports to Canada in textiles and engineering goods,” the sources said.
India’s exports to Canada stood at $2.03 billion in 2013-14 while imports stood at $3.14 billion during the year.
While India exports organic chemicals, precious stones, metals, apparels and machinery to Canada, it imports vegetables, paper and paperboard, fertilizers, wood pulp, machinery and iron and steel from the country.
“The framework on bilateral investment agreement with Canada is also being prepared so that both these agreements can be concluded during the visit. We want greater clarity on taxes on our companies in Canada,” another official said though he refused to elaborate on the clarity being sought.